Autism Spectrum Disorders

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A child may be found eligible for special education and related services as a child with autism if there is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to documented characteristics of autism spectrum disorder and the child requires specially designed instruction to meet their educational needs.  Children who are suspected of having a disability should be referred to their local school division for evaluation and to initiate the process for determining eligibility. 

Children with a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders must also be found eligible under IDEA to receive special education and related services. A clinical or medical diagnosis may inform the eligibility team, but does not equate to eligibility under IDEA. Educational identification is made using the Virginia eligibility criteria set forth in Virginia Regulations Governing Special Education for Students with Disabilities.

VDOE Guidance

Tools for educators, administrators, and parents working to improve services for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) – created in collaboration with staff at the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Education (VCU-ACE).

Guidelines for Uniform Training Standards for Paraprofessionals who Provide Primary Oversight to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (PDF) – VDOE provides guidance on training paraprofessionals who have primary oversight for students with ASD.

You may also be interested in Special Education Technical Assistance & Guidance for professionals and parents.

Training & Technical Assistance

The Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Education (VCU-ACE)

The Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Education (VCU-ACE) is a collaborative partnership between VDOE; the VCU School of Education, Department of Special Education and Disability Policy; the VCU School of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; and the VCU Research Rehabilitation and Training Center. VCU-ACE is dedicated to improving services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and to the implementation of evidence-based practices in schools and the community. VCU-ACE provides:

  • Division-wide technical assistance in schools
  • Informational webinars on a wide-range of topics relating to Autism Spectrum Disorder for parents, community members, and professionals
  • Professional development opportunities for families, administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, medical personnel, and community service agents
  • Communities of Learning in Autism (CoLA)

Virginia's Training and Technical Assistance Centers

The VDOE, sponsor of Virginia’s Training/Technical Assistance Centers (TTAC)also supports eight regional TTACs that comprise a statewide system emphasizing collaboration in the planning and provision of services to meet state and local staff development needs. The mission of Virginia's Training and Technical Assistance Centers (TTAC) is to improve educational opportunities and contribute to the success of children and youth with disabilities (birth - 22 years). The Centers provide quality training and technical assistance in response to local, regional, and state needs. TTAC services increase the capacity of schools, school personnel, service providers, and families to meet the needs of children and youth. The TTACs meet these needs through activities such as:

  • consultation
  • information services
  • linking and networking resources together
  • referral to other services
  • workshops

Additional Resources

  • Virginia Autism Council – The Virginia Autism Council is a council of Autism experts seeking to define needed skill competencies and to advance higher education, training, and educational opportunities for personnel and caregivers supporting individuals with Autism. This website is Virginia’s clearinghouse on best practices and research-based education and training opportunities to advance personnel development and knowledge regarding Autism in Virginia.
  • Autism Society of America - The mission of the Autism Society of America is to promote lifelong access and opportunity for all individuals within the autism spectrum, and their families, to be fully participating, included members of their community. The Autism Society of America has several affiliates (chapters) in Virginia. Visit Virginia affiliates to find an Autism Society of America chapter near your home.  
  • Autism Speaks - The mission of Autism Speaks is to change the future for all who struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Speaks is dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and a possible cure for autism. Autism Speaks strives to raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society: and they work to bring hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. Autism Speaks provides many resources accessible online, including 100 DaysEmployment Tool KitAdvocacy Tool Kit, and Family Support Tool Kits.
  • Commonwealth Autism Services (CAS) - The mission of Commonwealth Autism Services is to provide leadership in the implementation of a statewide system of services to maximize the potential and quality of life of each Virginian with Autism across the lifespan.  Commonwealth autism services provide information about autism, autism services, and providers.
  • Interactive Autism Network (IAN) - The IAN Community is an online environment designed to act as an inviting library and meeting place where everyone concerned with autism spectrum disorders
  • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) - The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts and supports research on brain and nervous system disorders. NINDS is one of the more than two dozen research institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mission of the NINDS is to reduce the burden of neurological disease by supporting and conducting research and disseminating information.
  • National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (NPDC) - The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders is a multi-university center to promote the use of evidence-based practice for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.
  • Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities (OCALI) Autism Internet Modules - The Autism Internet Modules were developed with one aim in mind: to make comprehensive, up-to-date, and usable information on Autism accessible and applicable to educators, other professionals, and families who support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Written by experts from across the U.S., all online modules are free and are designed to promote understanding of, respect for, and equality of persons with ASD.